News Stories, 13 June 2003
GENEVA, June 13 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency is throwing open the doors of its Geneva headquarters for a special concert of classical music to mark World Refugee Day on June 20, with renowned Egyptian actor Adel Imam joining in to help raise funds for young refugees in Africa.
Up to 500 people will be welcomed in the vast atrium of the landmark UNHCR building, which was built for the agency in the early 1990s after it outgrew its previous premises. UNHCR hopes to raise up to SF 200,000 to fund educational projects for young refugees in two refugee camps in Africa – Largo camp in Sierra Leone and Kasulu camp in Tanzania – in line with this year's World Refugee Day theme, "Refugee Youth – Building the Future".
The agency said that it expects to have sold 350 of the 500 tickets for the four-hour event by Friday, and that tickets are still available for the public.* The programme includes performances by two philharmonic orchestras (one Swiss and the other French) and renowned Swiss mezzo-soprano Brigitte Balleys, as well as a live webcam/Internet link with Swiss aid workers in the two refugee camps. The guests will also be treated to a reception.
UNHCR will also be showing an exhibition of paintings by Cambodian artist, Kosal, who arrived in France as a refugee in 1983 after fleeing the Khmer Rouge. A painting by Kosal, who lives in Annecy, has been chosen as the frontispiece for publicity materials for this year's World Refugee Day.
The guest of honour at the event will be Adel Imam, an Egyptian actor who is a legend throughout the Arabic-speaking world. He has been a UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador for the past three years. Later the same evening, he will also be presiding over a fund-raising dinner for 50 guests at the prestigious Hotel des Bergues, overlooking Lac Léman. The services of the hotel are being provided free by its new owner, HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the entire proceeds of the dinner will also go to the young refugees in Largo and Kasulu.
UNHCR said it has received unprecedented support for the event from major Swiss political figures and institutions, including current and former Presidents, Pascal Couchepin and Adolf Ogi, Foreign Minister Micheline Calmey-Rey, the Conseil d'Etat of the Canton de Genève and the Geneva City Council.
A number of other events to mark World Refugee Day are taking place throughout Switzerland, including, on June 18, a Concert for Peace and Reconciliation, featuring refugee bands from Burundi, Rwanda and Congo Brazzaville that will be held during a day of special events celebrating Geneva's new Stade de la Praille.
In addition, more than 50 public buildings across Switzerland and Liechtenstein, as well as Geneva's celebrated fountain, the Jet d'Eau, are scheduled to intrigue passers-by on World Refugee Day by turning UN blue.